7 tips for Java programming

Java is easy to learn and runs anywhere. Here are some tips to get you started
Kym Dunbar @whiteshepherd
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These tips will have you creating software in a flash

Java is a general-purpose programming language for developing application software for use on multi platforms. It is object-oriented, concurrent and class-based, and has few implementation dependencies.

Released by Sun Microsystem in 1995, it is hugely popular because it is simple to use and easy to learn. Java allows developers to "write once, run anywhere” (WORA). This means that when you write Java code on one platform such a UNIX, it will run on Macintosh or Microsoft Windows without the need to modify the source code. Java is reliable, safe and fast.

Here are some tips to help you as a Java developer.

Understand Java basics

This may seem obvious, but it is important to learn and understand the basics. Java has so many options and features for developers, they can distract you. It is an easy language to work with but only if you take the time to earn its basics. It will be frustrating to work with if you take shortcuts.

 

Practice, practice, practice

Read as much as you like about Java but you need to take the plunge and implement your knowledge if you are serious about it is as a programming language. Put into practice what you learn. There is no point reading all about it if you are not going to practice, practice, practice and start creating code.

Good naming conventions are key

Before you start writing code it is important to setup naming conventions for a Java project. Naming conventions are guidelines you follow to produce consistent, readable code for a project. When they do not follow these, the code for an application can be difficult to understand and read.

Naming conventions should be:

  • Self-explanatory. Names need to clearly identify the intention to make it easy for anyone to identify to make changes. For example, tte does not mean anything where timeToExpire is clear.
  • Distinguishable meanings. When you have different names, they should have distinctive meanings that mean something. For example, ab1 or ab2 do not distinguish one from the other where employee and employer do.
  • Easy to pronounce. Names should be easy to pronounce which will make them easy to remember.

Naming convention rules

Here are some naming convention rules to follow:

  • Names do not have spaces.
  • Names should never start with characters such as &, % or _.
  • Interfaces and classes should start with an uppercase letter and be a noun; for example, BuilderBike and Circle.
  • Variable names start with a lowercase letter and are nouns; for example, anniversary and number.
  • Method names start with a lowercase letter and are verbs; for example, stop and start.
  • Constant names are all uppercase letters that use an underscore to separate them; for example, MAX_HEIGHT and MIN_SIZE.
  • Use camel case when joining words without spaces; for example, dogCount when the name is a variable, getDogCount for the method, and GeneticTest for the class.

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By following good naming conventions, your code will be easy to read and understand by anyone.

Use Java collection classes

Java collection classes are objects that groups different elements together in a single unit of objects. Use collections to manipulate, retrieve, store and communicate a collection of data. Collections are groups of data that are similar; for example, a telephone directory groups names and telephone numbers or a folder for tax receipts contains everything you need for your tax return.

Java Collections framework

Collections framework in Java is a unified architecture storing and manipulating a group of objects. Each framework contains the following:

  • Interfaces. Framework interfaces provide abstract data types to represent a collection. They can be independently manipulated and dynamically grow or shrink in size, and they form a hierarchy.
  • Implementation classes. Implementation classes are reusable data structures. You can use them to create different collection types.
  • Algorithms. Algorithms are functionally reusable and are useful for functions such as searching, sorting and shuffling objects within collection interfaces.

Benefits of using Java Collections

Using Java Collections has the following benefits:

  • Allows unrelated APIs to work together.
  • Frees you from writing data structures.
  • Provides high speed performance and high-quality implementation.
  • You do not have to spend so much time learning how to use new APIs.
  • Collections gives code more structure, and makes it easier to understand and maintain.
  • Promotes reusing software.

  

Java libraries making coding easier

Java does not depend on an operating system to run so it cannot rely on platform libraries. Instead, Java has a huge library to make a programmer’s job easier and more efficient. Java’s standard class libraries contain the common functions of operating system so gives your code an organized flow. So, it is important to understand and use them while programming.

Write clean code

When writing big packages of code, developers joining ongoing projects can find it difficult to follow the code when it is unorganized. It is best practice to organize it properly right from the start of a project. There are three basic principles, the 10:50:500 rule, to follow for writing clean, supported code:

  • 10 – Packages should have no more than 10 classes.
  • 50 – Methods should only have a maximum of 50 lines of code.
  • 500 – Each class should not contain more than 500 lines of code.

 

Avoid memory leaks

Memory leaks cause performance degradation and occur when a program does not release the memory it uses temporarily. Developers do not have much control of this in Java as it manages memory use automatically. Having said that, there are a few things you can do to avoid memory leaks:

  • Release a session using:
    http.HttpSession.invalidate()
    when you finish.
  • Use session time out as little as possible.
  • Store as little data as possible in a HttpSession.
  • Use Finally block often to close connections.

Conclusion

Java is a programming language you can learn on your own, but the key to success is practice, practice, practice what you learn. Remember to use good naming conventions as well as Java Collections and Libraries. The more you write code, the easier it gets. Soon writing code in Java will become second nature.

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